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    Highlights—August 6 , 2005
  • Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger: Legislative Update. Full excerpt: If you don't want to let IBM win the Cooper appeal by spending millions of dollars in DC to legalize cash balance plans retroactively, please sign our petition at: http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?rrs01
    Then send a copy of the petition to your congressman and senators saying PLEASE do not legalize corporate take aways... Tell them just how unfair it would be, and how you will react in the next election, if IBM gets to keep $1.4 billion
    because of Congressional action! We've collected 2126 signatures so far; surely we can do better!!!
    Just a brief status update on the legislation: It has been passed by both the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Finance committee with cash balance plans being legalized prospectively, and not retroactively... After Congress returns from recess, it needs to go to the House Ways and Means committee, the Senate HELP committee, and the full floor of each body. Corporate lobbyists are working hard to get retroactive language back in, and it would not be unheard of for them to add it during the conference committee right before it gets sent on to President Bush, particularly if they think we are not watching.
    Make sure your voice is heard in Washington! P.S. P.S. If you're considering a drive to East St. Louis for the Settlement Hearing on August 8 from the Minnesota area, give me a call or send me a note so I can coordinate -- it should be a fun trip!
  • Yahoo! message board post by Don Shuper: Full excerpt: Urgent: Contact the Senate HELP Committee this
    week as they draft their bill to be marked up in September. Dear folks: We have gotten word that the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee is working this week to draft their version of a bi-partisan pension bill that is likely to include provisions legalizing cash balance plans RETROACTIVELY – not just on a prospective basis. The business community has been lobbying like mad – saying that retroactivity is key to any cash balance solution – and we need to FLOOD the offices of the members of the Senate HELP Committee to ensure they mark-up a bill in September that is at least as good as the Senate Finance Committee bill.
    Here are the steps you should take:
    1. Call and e-mail the members of the HELP Committee and tell them that any cash balance legislation must be prospective ONLY. Tell them making the bill retroactive would endanger pending lawsuits for hundreds of thousands of employees. In addition, tell them that any legislative solution MUST adequately protect the reasonable expectations of older workers. If the committee marks up a bill, it should include provisions similar to the `Pension Benefits Protection Act' (S. 1304), introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), which allows workers the choice between the old and new plan during conversions and which stops companies from engaging in "wearaway" practices that effectively freeze the benefits of older employees.
    2. First and foremost, send e-mails/faxes and call the leadership of the Senate HELP Committee. Below is their contact information:
      Senator Michael Enzi (WY),
      Chairman, Senate HELP Committee
      Phone: (202) 224-3424
      Fax: (202) 228-0359
      Senator Edward Kennedy (MA)
      Ranking Member
      Senate HELP Committee
      Phone: (202) 224-4543
      Fax: (202) 224-2417
    3. Next, look at the attached list of the members of the Senate HELP Committee. If you have time, write or call each of the members, particularly if they are your own senators. Call, fax or e-mail them with THE SAME STRONG MESSAGE AS ABOVE.
    4. Also, call YOUR OWN Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S.1304). Tell them that this is the ONLY bill that will adequately protect older workers in cash balance conversions. Ask your own Senators to contact members of the HELP Committee to urge them to protect employees in cash balance plans and conversions. You can find your Senator by visiting the following website, http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senat
      . YOU CAN ALSO CALL YOUR SENATORS BY CALLING (202) 224-3121 and asking the Senate operator to
      connect your call.
    We'll keep you posted if we hear anything else. And please FORWARD this email out to other activists and have them contact the HELP Committee and their Senators too!
    Best, Karen, Ryan and Joellen
    Pension Rights Center
    1350 Connecticut Ave, NW Suite 206
    Washington DC 20036
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Janet Krueger answers questions posted by another poster. Full excerpt: (Janet's responses are in italics).
    ...my senator is on the committee. Is it wise for us to wait for a senate bill number? Do NOT wait. CALL tomorrow and follow up your call with a letter. The staff is writing the damaging language while the Senate is in recess, with hopes it can be rushed through when they get back.
    What would be a good subject line, otherwise? Do NOT legalize corporate pension theft. Especially not RETROACTIVELY. Cash Balance plans do NOT need to be legalized -- they are only a vehicle for corporations to break long standing promises to older employees. If you feel you have to listen to the corporate lobbyists who are lying through their teeth about how cash balance plans have to be legalized to save America's pension system, then at least put in the same safeguards for older employees that the Senate Finance Committee did.
    I think consistency could be useful. Make sure they hear you SCREAMing NO to cash balance plans. Make sure they know you are watching, and what they do will impact how you vote the next time they come up for reelection. The *ONLY* way our voices will be heard over the millions of dollars companies like IBM are pumping into Washington is to let them know we VOTE, and we TALK to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues about how they vote...
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Janet Krueger responds to another poster who wonders if there is a "risk of too many letters / calls from same person?". Full excerpt: (Janet's response is in italics).
    I am looking for opinions... There are a lot of issues one might like to comment on. Then in the pension related issues, there are many different bills on the same topics. Not only is tracking and keeping up a challenge, I am afraid of being treated like static if I respond on each one. I have sent enough letters and faxes to all my federal legislators that I have a WORD template for each one. Now I am wondering if the staff will treat a lot of traffic from one person as "junk mail". In the computer age, tracking has to be easy.
    IBM's lobbyists are visiting them, in person, once each day. You'll have to send a lot of letters to have any chance of drowning them out. If you're tired of writing Congress, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, and then write to your friends and neighbors and ask them to write as well.
    They don't need to hear detailed comments on each version of the pension reform bill. What they need to hear is a loud and clear refrain that cash balance plans are nothing more than corporate theft and should not be legal, especially not retroactively.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Janet Krueger responds to another poster. Full excerpt: (Janet's response is in italics). Got the same, IBM Attorneys waiting for Congress on HR 2830/2831 Retro cash balance plan and the death blow to Cooper V. IBM ruling by Judge Murphy. The fact that three out of four district courts have rejected plaintiffs' liability argument provides strong evidence that plaintiffs may well lose that argument in the Court of Appeals.
    IBM's attorneys would dearly love to have us all believe HR 2830/2831 is so much of a lost cause that we would stop calling Congress and collecting signatures... The sad thing is that if we do give up, they are right.
    The *ONLY* chance IBM has right now of winning their appeal is to convince Congress to retroactively legalize what they did. The cases IBM counsel is pointing you to in other district courts are red herrings -- the most significant precedent to look at is still Berger v Xerox -- the appellate decision is in the IBMPension files area as: Berger v Xerox (7th Cir 080103).pdf. Note that it was written by Judge Posner, who will most likely be the appellate Judge assigned to the Cooper appeal!
    In the interim, PLEASE keep those calls and letters flowing into DC -- we need to make sure they know voters are watching -- that is the ONLY way we can counteract corporate lobbying dollars!!!
    If you haven't signed the petition yet, go to http://www.petitiononline.com/rrs01/petition.html and do so. Then forward it to your friends, coworkers, and family and ask them to do the same.
    A group of us is flying to DC right after the hearing to say our piece in person -- more signatures on the petition would be great to have in our back pockets, and it would also be helpful if all the staff members knew they had received dozens of phone calls about it.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger: Cooper Settlement Hearing on August 8. Excerpts: The next step in the process, if you still don't agree with the proposed settlement, would be to testify at the settlement hearing on August 8 in East St. Louis -- the time for corresponding via letter or fax has passed.
    FYI, I just uploaded the motions and supporting affidavits that will be processed at the August 8 settlement hearing. To view or print them, you need a copy of Adobe Acrobat reader, as well as a Yahoo ID that is a member of this group. Go to the following URL to download the files: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/ibmpension/files/
    I found the recap of 1999 events that Bill Carr included in his affidavit particularly interesting -- he brought back a lot of memories!
    If you plan to attend the hearing and are interested in participating in social functions before and/or after the hearing, send me a note before Saturday night. Also, we do have room in our car for one more attendee from Rochester. It should be interesting!
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper (of Cooper v. IBM fame). Full excerpt: This is Kathi Cooper. I will be flying to Washington with Janet and others on Tuesday. In the interim, please hound Washington with your calls. Tell them that Cash Balance is bad and must not be made legal. Tell them you are a class member of Cooper v. IBM (if you are) and what IBM did to you was illegal, morally wrong, and that you were hurt. Tell them that if they can't protect your pension, then you will vote for someone who will. Tell them to vote against cash balance plans and specifically against making any changes that includes retroactivity.
    We are at a very critical position. Thanks in advance for all your hard work. Pass it on. Kathi Cooper, Bethalto, IL.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: The courthouse is located in a very depressed city. It was built there in hopes of creating development interest in the area, but not to be. When you enter, go through the metal detector and walk up the central staircase (forget the elevator). Make an immediate left at the top of the stairs then make an immediate right. You will be at his court room. Judge G. Patrick Murphy is the Chief Justice of the Federal Courthouse, Southern District of Illinois.
    The only art in his court room is 1) a picture of his grandma, dressed up as Mother Liberty in a parade of many years past, and 2) a picture of the Viet Nam wall in DC with a picture of him and his war buddies (then) and his war buddies as of today (now) superimposed over the war memorial picture.
    A picture is worth a thousand words.
    Everything you need to know about the courthouse (including directions): http://www.ilsd.uscourts.gov/
  • Motley Fool: Share Buybacks Aren't All Equal. By Richard Gibbons. Excerpts: It seems like every second company on Wall Street is announcing a share buyback. And we're not talking pocket change here. In the last reported quarter, Applied Materials spent $500 million, Merrill Lynch spent a billion, Bank of America spent $1.8 billion, and Citigroup spent $2 billion. These are some huge numbers, and shareholders are generally delighted to hear of such buybacks. But there are actually times when buybacks are terrible for shareholders. [...]
    One particularly bad thing that management can do is to repurchase shares to artificially support the stock price. In such a case, management uses the company's money to reward sellers of the stock at the expense of long-term holders. The sellers do well, as they end up selling their shares at a higher price than they would otherwise receive. But the long-term investors do poorly, since the company is squandering money on something that's overvalued.
    Another downside is that it diminishes a company's cash balance, reducing its flexibility should a need for cash arise in the future. That's why, when evaluating whether a share repurchase is a good idea, it's important to understand whether or not the company is truly using excess cash, money that the business doesn't require.
    A good example of a bad buyback was IBM's share repurchases in the late 1990s. IBM, like most tech stocks of the time, was overvalued. Five years later, it still hasn't returned to the level at which it traded at back then. Yet IBM was buying back shares. Even worse, if you look at the balance sheets for those years, you'll see that IBM's long-term debt increased. So, effectively, IBM was borrowing billions of dollars to repurchase its own overvalued shares. As a shareholder, this really isn't something you want your management team to be doing.
  • WashTech: Deep Throat Move Over: Disgruntled IT Employees Expose All. “Fair Globalization” May Be the Answer to Offshoring. By Roberta L. Wilson. Excerpts: Another day, another set of corporate slides arrives in the WashTech/CWA Local 37083 office in Seattle. “We don’t go looking for these slides,” said Marcus Courtney, President of WashTech. “But disgruntled employees continue to send evidence of their companies’ offshoring plans to us through anonymous phone calls, faxes, emails and even brown paper envelopes.” [...]
    Another recent slide faxed to WashTech offices comes from IBM. It shows IBM’s recent offshoring numbers from 2002 to 2005, confirming our August 2003 story about IBM’s plans to accelerate offshoring. Total headcount in India in 2002 was 6,070. In 2005 it grew to 38,196. At the same time, thousands of IBM workers are losing their jobs in the U.S. and U.K. [...]
    These batches of slides, along with other evidence of offshoring-"for example, the many e-mails WashTech receives to update our Offshore Tracker-"point to continued and accelerated offshoring of jobs in many job categories. As Courtney says, “Every company seems to have the same strategy: offshore jobs, increase work hours, provide fewer benefits.” Meanwhile, according to a June 3, 2005, Reuters story, the Indian government, in service to their free marketers, has noted the continued backlash against free-trade globalization (fromWashTech, IBM Alliance and other organizations). They are petitioning the World Trade Organization (WTO) to prevent the U.S. and other countries from taking steps to ban companies from outsourcing jobs. See this link for more. [...]
    The task is to address the jobs deficit with strategies to create enough decent jobs for everyone. You can read more about this report in a paper located at FairJobs.org: http://www.fairjobs.org/fairjobs/reports/ See “Outsource This? American Workers, the Jobs Deficit and Fair Globalization.” Meanwhile, we’re depending on our deep throat contacts in the high-tech sector to keep us reporting on the facts and consequences of free-trade globalization.
    See the documents WashTech has obtained: Corporate Secrets Exposed.

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. The following is an example post from the Vault message board.
  • "BCS in the UK" by "nollag". Excerpts: Agree with much of what was said in the last post. Go for Southbank, rather than Bedfont. The bonus scheme is rubbish, and only pays out on a very arbitrary basis. FS is probably the best practice, in an otherwise struggling consultancy. Morale is extremely low in the UK, and staff attrition rates in BCS in the UK were up to 40% last year, so that BCS are now just hiring to stand still. A lot of the new people are very weak. There has just been a big partner cull to clear some dead wood, but it hasn't gone far enough.
    A lot of the partner behaviour is questionable as well. As a female Senior Consultant, I am constantly amazed at how many of our married Partners and APs behave like the female staff are part of their personal harem. Promotion above SC level seems to be a rare event for some one who is black, female, or gay. In mitigation, FS are doing lots of interesting work, but think carefully before joining.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • Alliance@IBM: Attention IBM employees: IBM is blocking e-mail to and from the Alliance@IBM e-mail address endicottalliance@stny.rr.com from inside the company. Please send your job cut information and other correspondence from your home e-mail. You can also contact us the following ways: Phone 607 658 9285 or Fax 607 658 9283.
  • IBM Pension Lawsuit FAQ about Cooper v IBM, Updated 6-21-05. Excerpt: Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the class action lawsuit against IBM's 1995 and 1999 pension plans. The answers are my personal opinions, have not been verified with either IBM or plaintiffs’ counsel, and should not be construed as legal advice. On July 31, 2003, a federal district court judge ruled in favor of the employees in this case. IBM will appeal portions of the ruling. On September 28, 2004, IBM and the legal team on Cooper v IBM announced that an agreement had been negotiated that settles some of the claims and set the amount of damages that IBM will pay to the class if IBM's appeal of the district court's age discrimination rulings is unsuccessful. Click on any question to jump to the answer. Or scroll down and read them all.
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments Page. Excerpts: Job cuts are coming. Information needed: What is Your location? How many job cuts at your location? What locations are cutting jobs? Name of Division and Business Unit? Some sample submissions follow:
    • Comment 08/01/05: I was laid off from IBM in 2002 after 19 years of service. I was a solid "2" performer and loved my job. My manager chased me down the hall like an animal the morning I was laid off to pull me in his office and tell me I was "selected" for the resource action. I have never been so mistreated in my life. Fortunately I quickly found another job with a competitor. I am a top performer and wake up every morning with the goal to beat IBM. Sammy better think long and hard about the damage he is doing to IBM with his poor management style. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/04/05: This is in response to the following comment posted below: Comment 07/26/05: RE: 7/19/05 comment requesting help with a newspaper story about Leave of Absence processing. Seeking any employee who took a "personal Leave of Absence, Educational Leave, pregnancy leave" and were fired or demoted afterwards - what about medical leaves? I've seen many, many people go as soon as their medical leaves were up. -Anonymous- Anyone who has taken a medical benefit and was out of work under the Sickness & Accident Income Plan, Short Term Disability Plan or others please send a note to the Alliance Editors. I was especially looking for someone from the RTP area. This is where I've found a reporter to do the story. Please contact the Alliance ASAP. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/04/05: I guess I'm one of the "lucky" ones, having to work 60-72 hours a week (a big amount of time on weekend change windows for our customer). Unfortunately, fellow co-workers in my old departments continue to suffer at the hands of the recent resource actions and offshoring. My old department lost just over 19 people (both in Texas and Colorado) during the last RA. Most of them knew something was up when management wouldn't call them back to discuss their IDPs (Individual Development Plans) that were being done at the time. Now another co-worker is on her way to Bangalore to help start another group performing her job function. She doesn't believe she is training her replacement (along with others), but the writing is on the wall if you ask me. Personally I'd tell the company where to go, but unfortunately they have her due to the fact she needs her check to support her family.
      I agree whole heartedly with comments earlier...I used to love my job, working for IBM and with computers, but I now despise my job due to IBM. Don't take this the wrong way, I've been with the company going on my 16th year and have never seen the the disrespect managers now treat their employees with. Something has to change, for once what was a great company, now I think should crash and burn for their inhumane treatment of their most valuable resource, the people that make up the company.
      My manager continues to insist I should thank IBM, because without them, I wouldn't have a job. IBM needs to wake up, it's just the opposite. Without those loyal, hardworking employees, there would be NO IBM! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/04/05: With all the great talent being laid off from IBM why not start a company of our own and go head to head with big spew!!! What investor would not want a highly qualified workforce who knew the business already and could simply just do the opposite of what IBM does and be a success!!! Why stay at this antiquated, greedy, new world order company. I say F#^% IBM ...start a new company American Business Machines!!! American made for Americans. What govt. agency would not take us, over IBOutsourced ? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/04/05: For those of us who are sitting on the fence wondering what we should do about our future; the future of those still working for IBM and those who have retired from IBM, consider the fact that there are no guarantees. No guarantee of continuing employment, as is evidenced by the latest round of layoffs. There is no guarantee that if you retire from IBM that you will continue to receive your health benefits. IBM has the right to change the health benefits, charge more or do away with them entirely and there isn't a single thing that any of us can do about it except wring our hands, feel sorry for ourselves and perhaps complain to our elected representatives. If we are represented by a union, at least there is someone working on our behalf as a group. There is strength in numbers! -Anonymous-

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